It was 10:00pm on Thursday, June 6th. The day had already been long and full of work-related nonsense. I went in search for my furry friend, my spirit animal, my sweetest love... but I didn't find him in our usual spots.
Typically, this is not cause for panic - he's smallish and black. Easily camouflaged in a dark home.
I tried not to panic, held in the exasperating in and out that desperately tore from my lungs. My anxiety attack quickly turned into a full panicked state. Laundry room, back porch, two other rooms, both bathrooms, behind the couch, in all 7 closets, on a chair sleeping... nowhere.
By this point, I couldn't breathe - I was hyperventilating. My own anxiety and demons taking over the what ifs and what was. I couldn't find him. In my heart and deep in my guts, I knew he was outside.
I guess I didn't notice him? I guess I didn't see him slip past the front door into the yard when I went out there to take a phone call ... I guess I didn't see him.
That night, without my knowledge - my heart went missing.
I could barely sleep - but the hours of sobbing while simultaneously looking for him inevitably caught up with me. I left my door open, inviting anything to help me find him - still hoping that there was a chance he was in the house. My body only allowed a little less than 3 hours before waking up to what I could only fathom was my own personal Hell.
I was laying there, exhausted. I had searched outside for 4 1/2 hours. I laid on the ground to see if he was under any of the cars on the street, I checked neighbors back yards, I called to him for hours. I then prayed and gave myself to every god, goddess and deity that I could pull from my mind - even praying to Mother Earth and nature itself. I begged the moon to guide him home, the stars to point him in the right direction and the earth to keep him safe. As I watched a car speed down our quiet neighbor street, I felt defeated. I begged and pleaded all night, to no avail - so I crawled from the empty blanket he sleeps on to my shower.
Most days, the shower is for waking and bribing myself to conquer the day - but I kept considering all of the ways I could aid myself in this search for him. Should I wake up my family to help? I decided that I didn't want to bother them at 5am, but at that point, I still had no solid plan.
I heard someone stirring outside of the bathroom, heard the back sliding door open and close. It was probably my grandma, she looked at the flyer I poorly made and left on the table, right? She'd make the copies I needed because we are almost out of printer ink, right?
Horribly Made Missing FlyerLC
I tightly wrapped the towel around my body, trying desperately to hold myself together. The knot in my chest only growing stronger the closer I got to my grandma. I pad onto the back porch and call for her... and then I snap.
All of those feelings of desperation and despair come bubbling out of my body like uncharted waves. It crashed so quickly against me as I started to once again hyperventilate. She asked me what was wrong - I was sobbing at this point. How could I be so irresponsible? How could I not find him?
She was calm - of course - because that's typically how these stories go, I assume. She had me open the garage, as if I hadn't checked there last night. She called his name... I kid you not, he cried.
Mind you, I'm still sobbing - my heart feels like it's being torn from my chest and stabbed repeatedly, and he CRIES for her. She looks down, there he was as if he hadn't been outside for 12 hours or so. When she hands him to me, I'm shaking. Crying into his fur - so elated and relieved, my grandma said “You know, that's how mothers feel when their children are missing."
I held onto him for a short while, when we made it to the room, crying and petting him - He ate and used the bathroom. It was like nothing had changed for his routine. Pets, food, pets, bathroom, pets, brush, pets. As if the system hadn't been disrupted, as if I hadn't been riddled with grief for half of a day, as if for a moment he wasn't gone.
I dropped my head into my hands as I attempted to reign in my feelings, praising all of the gods, goddess, deities, moon, stars and the Earth for getting him home safely. I didn't care about the logistics, I was just so happy he was back.
I don't know what I would have done had it ended differently. I don't want to imagine it, don't want to dwell on the bad bits that I had already conjured before. I didn't want to lose him, the first cat to love me as much as I loved him.
So don't you dare tell me having an animal isn't like having a child. A life is a life - and that life belongs to me. I take him to the dr, I feed and make sure he's hydrated, I clean his space and play with him, I brush him and buy him toys. He is MY Child and I was terrified and crushed.
That night, my heart went missing - but I'll never take that for granted again.